Advertisement

Abel completes perfect weekend, dominating Indy NXT at Barber

The wait finally is over for Jacob Abel.

He led all 35 laps from pole to claim his first Indy NXT by Firestone victory Sunday in the Indy NXT by Firestone Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park.

The win came in Abel’s 30th career start in the IndyCar development series and was the first win for the family-owned Abel Motorsports team. His previous best result was second, three times, including in the 2024 season opener March 10 at St. Petersburg, Florida.

Abel led both practices and qualifying at Barber before completing his dream weekend with a win.

“I’m speechless, man,” Abel said. “This team has been working for this for so long now, and to finally get it done and on such a picture-perfect weekend, it’s been lights out all weekend long. It was just up to me to deliver it.

“A lot of nerves all weekend long, but I can finally say that yes, everything went right this weekend. Super happy with it.”

Abel won under caution in the No. 51 Abel Construction entry when Jamie Chadwick spun into the gravel in Turn 1 on lap 34 and got stuck, triggering a race-ending yellow flag. Abel led Siegel’s No. 39 HMD Motorsports car by about a second when the yellow flew.

James Roe placed third in the No. 29 TopCon car of Andretti Global to earn his second career podium finish. Caio Collet was the highest-placing rookie, finishing fourth in the No. 18 HMD Motorsports car.

Louis Foster completed a stirring drive from 21st and last on the starting grid to round out the top five in the No. 26 Copart/Novara Technologies entry fielded by Andretti Global.

Siegel, who started second, ran in that position for the entire race. But he did pull side by side with Abel in Turn 5 on lap 10 after gaining ground after a lap six restart. Abel parried that move by Siegel, who fell back to 0.5510s of a second behind at the end of that lap.

Abel then controlled the race from that point, but it wasn’t without some anxiety.

Siegel conserved his Firestone Firehawk tires and Push to Pass and started to close in on Abel with 10 laps remaining on the 17-turn, 2.3-mile circuit. Siegel pulled his machine within 0.479s on lap 27, but Abel was able to expand that gap to 0.840s by lap 30 and held on for the win.

“Congrats to Jacob,” Siegel said. “He did a great job all weekend. Honestly, I think we were faster today. The car was fantastic. We saved everything for the last lap; we saved all our P2P, saved our tires the entire race sitting there, and right as I started to go for it, that yellow came out.

“Super disappointed, but I think it’s a good day when you’re disappointed with second.”

The duel between Abel and Siegel not only was compelling for the fans watching from Barber’s manicured grounds, but it also set the stage for a potential championship battle all season. Abel and Siegel are tied atop the standings with 95 points after two races.

“Props to Nolan,” Abel said. “He kept me honest. The whole entire race, he was right there. He’s a great competitor, and I look forward to many battles like that throughout the season.”

Foster may have salvaged his championship hopes with a terrific drive from the back of the field. He barely completed any practice laps this weekend and didn’t participate in qualifying due to nagging electrical problems.

But the Andretti Global crew diagnosed and fixed the gremlins, and Foster diced through the field for a strong recovery. He is third in the standings, 30 points behind Abel and Siegel.

The next events for Indy NXT by Firestone are the Indianapolis Grand Prix doubleheader May 10-11 on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

RESULTS

 

Story originally appeared on Racer